Day 38, Tour 10 Christmas Valley to near Crater Lake, OR

A place of beauty and peace
I sat under the bush whose shadow you can see on the right hand side of the small bridge,
I sat, listening to wind in aspen leaves and watching the leaves across the bride twist in the wind

It was a 90 mile day today, with a late start because of a pedal problem, and a longer ride time than I expected because of wind near the end of the day. I finished, near dark, at the Wispering Pines motel where all I hear is noise of traffic on US 97 ;-{. It isn't nearly as peaceful as the Desert Inn was in Christmas Valley, but that was in one of the most remote places in Oregon and this is on major highway, US 97.

Heading out on Old Lake Road
I soon turned back ;-{

When I left the Desert Inn about 8:15 this morning, I headed south towards OR 31 on The Old Lake Road. I'd been hearing some squeaks from my pedals for several days, but they were intermittent and I thought they were from my shoes slipping on the metal pedal. This morning, it was obvious that the squeak was from a pedal bearing - the inner needle bearing in my right 5050XX pedal. The squeak was from an unlubricated bearing that could seize if I continued riding. I turned around an went back to the motel.

5050xx pedals are designed to be relubed with a grease injector that was used to squirt grease into a port on the outer end of the pedal. I didn't bring my grease injector on this tour. I did bring a simple Shimano oil injector that I had already used to lube my suspension seat post. I figured that if I could get oil into the peadal, it would mix with the existing grease in the outer bearinag and, hopefully. run down the grease channel inside the pedal and lubricate the inner bearing. I removed the pedal from the crank, remove the small screw for the grease port and squirted oil into the port. Then holding the pedal with the port up, I twisted the pedal body back and forth on the axle and tapped the axle on the pavement to encourage oil to flow down to the inner bearing. It took about half an hour to get the inner bearing turning freely again. Roughly an hour after my original start, I headed down Old Lake Road again.

High Desert Hay stacked by Old Lake Road, the major crop in this part of Oregon

The water that make irrigated crops possible here

The mechanism that moves an irrgation system

An irrigation system in action

A farm near Christmas Valley with about a dozen irrigation systems all running at once

While it is still high desert, the area west and south of Christmas Valley has a lot of farms with irrigated fields. Historically, this areas was settled in the early 1900s by homesteaders doing dry land farming. That didn't work out too well for most of them - too little and too undependable rain - and they left the in the 1920s. Now, all the farms I saw were irrigated and used lots of ground water. The dominant crop was 'High Desert Hay,' but here were also other crops. The area seemed to be doing well economically.

I rode Old Lake Road down to OR 31 - 14 miles, then headed west on OR 31 to Silver Lake - about 6 miles, but marked as three miles on the first sign I saw - where I stopped at a market and bought bananas and a drink to supplement my supplies. It was noon and the wind was getting strong from the NW. Right after Silver Lake, OR 31 turned north and half a mile later, I turned west on Silver Lake Rd and headed into the hills. This meant a lot of climbing, but climbing meant getting into the forest and that block most of the wind.

The turn after Silver Lake

The start of the forest

My bike on the bridge with aspen trees behind it

The first mountain I saw - neat to see mountains again!


There was a lot of climbing in the next 15 miles, but, then the road went into Kalamath county and the riding was gentler. It was still a LONG 45 miles of mostly nothing but a road through pretty country with no services and light traffic. The wind was usually blocked by the trees, but, when there were open areas, it was quite strong.

My first view of the mountains ahead

A windy open area in the mountains

Mountains ahead and the Kalamath Marsh just arond the corner

Looking across the Kalamath Marsh

US 97 , heading north 15 miles to the Whispering Pines motel

I really got tired of riding on Silver Lake Rd when I started riding on sections under construction. There were several long sections were the road surface was loose gravel. Then the road came out of hills and into the wind while I travelled through Kalamath Marsh. The Marsh was neat, but riding across it in the wind was hard. Then the official Marsh ended and the road continued across marsh/open flat area for another five miles of hard riding. The last part of that included three miles of, loose gravel, road construction ;-{. When I finally made it back into trees for the last mile or two of Silver Lake Road, I was very happy, but also very tired.

When the road T'd into US 97, I had 15 miles to go, north on US 97, to get to the motel I planned to stay.That 15 miles felt shorter than the last five miles on Silver Lake Rd! I rode up to the motel just before sunset and had an icecream bar, from the motel stores very limited selection, for 'supper.' I had been snacking on apples, bananas, bagels, and Nutella all day so I didn't need much supper.

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